Notre Dame’s Academic Technologies group recently partnered with the College of Science to build a Lightboard studio modeled after the studio that Prof. Michael Peshkin designed for Northwestern. This video illustrates some of the capability of the lightboard. Some of the video clips are from a demonstration model, prior to the completion of the full studio.
After two weeks of intensive workshops, Notre Dame’s Global Dome PhD Accelerator in the Humanities program wrapped up with a roundtable discussion on “The Humanities and the Digital Future”. The panelists included; Elliott Visconsi, Chief Academic Digital Officer & Associate Professor of English, Concurrent Associate Professor of Law, U of Notre Dame, Kate Edwards, Senior Vice President of Efficacy and Research, Pearson PLC, and Simon Tanner, Deputy Head of Digital Humanities, King’s College London.
Visconsi kicked the discussion off by providing a “brief tour” into “Digital and Online Learning” in higher level education today and addressing some of the key questions that digital education as a broad category asks us to think about. Responding to Naomi S. Baron’s recent article, “How E-Reading Threatens Learning in the Humanities“, Visconsi first tackled charges made against the use of technological devices in the classroom and their effects on student learning. Against Baron’s claim that reading on electronic devices lessens students’ engagement / learning, Visconsi argued that devices can, when employed effectively, be designed and used for deep and engaged reading and urged the audience not to “confuse the device with the process”. Visconsi then went on to discuss the “Media Shift” that is occurring in higher level education today, where new technologies are emerging and taking the place of older media forms. With new technologies changing processes of creation, distribution, and reception of expression, Visconsi useful asked: what is the role of the information elites in the media ecology? In the face of the changing educational landscape, Visconsi claimed that the two things we as humanists need to hold onto in the face of the media shift are disciplinarity and the values of our expertise. In his final 5 minutes, Visconsi, spoke about online learning and the post-MOOC moment. Rather than seeing MOOCs as a replacement for professors, online teaching is, he argued a way of broadening our reach to members of the world who are interested in what we do.
Next to speak was Kate Edwards, Senior Vice President of Efficacy and Research, Pearson PLC. Edwards spoke about Pearson’s Efficacy Tool, a tool that uses a tried and tested method to help understand how products or services can achieve their intended outcomes or results, specifically in relation to improving learning outcomes. She also outlined Pearson’s commitment to improving teaching and learning world wide; for example, in 2018, Pearson have committed to publicly report our impact on learner outcomes, and set targets for improvement across their business by 2018. Of key interest, was Edwards’s discussion of learning analytics as a means of improving student learning.
Finally, the concluding speaker, Simon Tanner, Head of the Digital Humanities Department in King’s College London, spoke about digital humanities scholarship and its relationship to existing work in the humanities. Tanner begun by providing an accessible overview of the types of work that fall under the rubric of digital humanities, among them, distant reading and scholarly editing. While outlining how technology enables new scholarly approaches to humanities artifacts, Tanner emphasized that having a good research question to begin with remains key to schoalarship in this area. While it is possible that Tanner geared his talk towards the interests of this specific audience (all humanities students), reiterating a point made by Visconsi, he argued that digital technologies are merely tools to help enhance what we as humanities scholars already do.
As is frequently the way with panels like this, the questions the presentations evoked were perhaps as illuminating as the talks themselves. Questions centered around the role of the professor in the changing landscape of higher education; should the professor adapt the role of “edutainer”? Are learning analytics an effective means of calculating / improving student learning? How can a professor engage students who are not motivated to learn, either with or without digital tools? The meaning of “knowledge” was also addressed: What do we understand by “knowledge” in a digital age? What, if any, is the distinction between the skills acquired in the use of digital tools and “knowledge” as traditionally understood in humanities scholarship? The panelists’ responses were both helpful and, most refreshingly, honest. For example, frequent reference was made to working outside of the academy and how young scholars can, during the PhD processes, simultaneously prepare for careers in academia and beyond.
As an observer, I was struck by the confidence of the audience members, all of whom would be entering the job market in the coming year. This in itself I found refreshing: despite all the pessimism concerning the future of the humanities, these young scholars are looking confidently into the digital future.
Click the links below to hear the various presentations:
Simon Tanner, Digital Humanities at King’s College London.
The University of Notre Dame on Wednesday (June 11) announced that it has joined the edX Consortium as a charter member. A not-for-profit partnership of leading global universities, edX is committed to innovations in online and blended learning, improving access to education, and researching effective learning for use on and beyond college campuses.
Currently, edX members offer more than 200 open online courses to learners worldwide in a range of academic areas, including engineering, the humanities, natural sciences, computer science and public health. Notre Dame will use edX courses — along with educational media, innovative tools and strategies and the data they yield — in the service of effective teaching and learning.
“Notre Dame and edX have shared philosophical interests,” said Rev. John I. Jenkins, C.S.C., Notre Dame’s president. “We are delighted to partner with edX to advance the cause of open learning and improve access to education on a global scale. Notre Dame looks forward to joining the other extraordinary colleges and universities in the edX Consortium to improve human flourishing through education.”
“Open online education done well extends the values and aspirations of a residential university such as Notre Dame,” said Elliott Visconsi, the University’s chief academic digital officer. “By joining the edX Consortium, we reaffirm our broader commitment to provide an unparalleled education for our students, assert our intention to create new knowledge for the public good and pledge to use technology to enhance rather than erode the bond between teacher and learner.” You can read the edX interview with Prof. Visconsi here.
Notre Dame’s Office of Digital Learning will announce its first four edX courses, to be launched in spring 2015, at a later date.
Founded in April 2012 by Harvard and MIT, edX was created for students and institutions that seek to transform themselves through cutting-edge technologies, innovative pedagogy and rigorous courses. It presents the best of education online, offering opportunity to anyone who wants to achieve, thrive and grow.
Among the other edX charter members are institutions including UC Berkeley, Tsinghua University, Cornell University, Rice University, Peking University, IIT Bombay, Catholic University of Louvain, Columbia University and the University of Chicago.
Contact: Elliott Visconsi, chief academic digital officer, firstname.lastname@example.org or @EVisconsi
Originally published by Shannon Chapla at news.nd.edu on June 11, 2014.
Last week marked the end of two MOOCs for me: BlendKit and the The History of Marriage in Film. Since Sonia has already summed up the BlendKIt experience, I will focus on the film course. Our MOOC group met for one last time this week to watch the last film (The War of the Roses, which we all agreed was the most entertaining of the bunch) and to reflect on the experience of forming a MOOC discussion group. Overall, we found the MOOC itself to contain interesting information; although we agreed that it lacked the formal analysis we had hoped would come toward the end and generally felt that the post-1940s era wasn’t adequately discussed. But perhaps, this is partly due to the MOOC format. How much can one really cover in 5 weeks? And how can you make a course palatable to a very broad audience? Certain choices have to be made that might not please every participant.
We did agree, however, that meeting for the MOOC group fundamentally changed our experience of the course. In fact, we are hoping to begin another MOOC later this summer to see if the experience is the same if a different course (such as art or history) is taken. Here is a list of points that we agreed upon that sums up our MOOC Group experience.
- Forming a group and meeting once a week made us feel more accountable for the course material.
- The group kept us motivated to keep going past the 3 week marker, which is the usual drop off point.
- Meeting weekly to discuss the films allowed us to explore points of interest that were not discussed in the lectures, such as formal analysis.
- The MOOC Group enabled us to better reflect on the MOOC form. Each week we discussed the strengths and weaknesses of this online course format. Part of this discussion also entailed thinking about how MOOCs might impact our own students.
Overall, this was my favorite MOOC of the three I have taken. This is in part due to the subject matter. But the main reason I found this MOOC enjoyable was due to the MOOC group. It was everything I liked about being in class, minus the stress of papers, exams, and deadlines.
After 4 weeks of reading assignments, webinars, blogs, info streams, and DIY tasks, I have earned a course completion badge for the BlendKit2014. As I will not be submitting a portfolio for assessment (to have a portfolio assessed costs $90), I have fulfilled all the necessary requirements to have “Successfully Completed” the course. I was pleasantly surprised by the sense of achievement I felt when I received the email containing my new badge from the course instructors.
Having just completed the course, now is an opportune time to reflect on the Blendkit2014 over all. Looking back on the past 5 weeks, I can genuinely say that I learned a lot, not just about designing online courses, but about course design and delivery more generally. I would go so far as to say that any graduate student planning to pursue a teaching career would benefit from taking this course. The readings and the assignments have helped me formulate a teaching philosophy which is informed by a type of pedagogy that is suitable for teaching in online and flipped environments.
Considering the BlendKit2014 as an online course itself, I found the structure and delivery of content to be user-friendly; The amount of content delivered on a weekly basis was not over powering, but still enough to have students learn something new. The Canvas platform provided a user-friendly environment for accessing course content. The weekly webinars not only elaborated on the reading materials but served to form a sense of community with fellow course participants.
My only critique of the course is that the assignments are geared towards those who already have a course syllabus and structure in hand. For those (like myself) who did not come to the BlendKit course with this material, the work load for the weekly assignments was quite heavy. That being said, it did provide an impetus to begin putting on paper (or online!) a course I had been thinking about for some time.
By doing the Blendkit course, I have learned a lot about online teaching and learning in online environments. I highly recommend Blendkit2014 for anyone considering developing a flipped or online course, or for those who are just curious about teaching in online environments.